Tyus Jones: ‘We’re Locked In And Focused’

Two days after beating No. 6 Louisville by double digits on the road, the Duke Blue Devils returned home Monday to beat ACC rival Pittsburgh, 79-65.

Freshman guard Tyus Jones led the way for Duke, scoring a game-high 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting. He was 4-of-6 from downtown, 4-of-5 from the line and even added four assists and two rebounds.

“Shots were falling tonight,” Jones said on Ferrall on the Bench. “It really got going. Guys were feeding off each other and playing with confidence. Guys really had each other’s back tonight.”

Duke shot 11-of-23 (47.8 percent) from three-point range, with Rasheed Sulaimon hitting four and Justice Winslow hitting two of his own. Pitt, meanwhile, was just 3-of-10 from deep.

“Our shots were falling,” Jones said. “We haven’t been shooting it well the past few games, so when we saw the ball go into the net tonight, that picked us up. We just kept shooting and kept shooting with even more confidence. We were making plays and making the extra pass, so it was good basketball tonight.”

Duke out-rebounded Pitt, 36-32 – mainly because of senior guard Quinn Cook, who had a game-high 10 boards.

“Quinn was big time for us on the boards tonight,” Jones said. “He helps the post out. That’s something that coaches were talking to us about. Guards got to get in there and help out a little bit more. He definitely did that to an extreme. So credit him with the double-double tonight.”

Cook had 11 points, while Jahlil Okafor had 14.

It was quite a weekend for No. 5 Duke (16-2), which has won two straight after dropping back-to-back games to NC State and Miami. Duke, which took down then-No. 2 Wisconsin on the road in December, has now defeated two top-10 teams in hostile environments.

“We had to lock in and be very intense,” Jones said of Saturday’s win at Louisville. “That started with practice. We really just had to buy in and just be locked in and focused and get back to playing Duke basketball. We got away from how we were playing early in the season, these past two games that we lost. So going into Louisville, we were just locked in and had to play together and play for one another and play for coach. So that’s what we did. We had a good game, and we had to do the exact same thing heading into tonight. We didn’t want to drop off or have a lapse or anything like that, especially not at Cameron after how we played (our) last game at (home). We owed it to the Crazies and to everyone here to play a good game at home tonight.”

The Blue Devils play their next three games on the road: at St. John’s (12-5) on Jan. 25, at No. 8 Notre Dame (17-2) on Jan. 28 and at No. 2 Virginia (17-0) on Jan. 31. Needless to say, this is a pivotal stretch for a Duke team currently fifth in the ACC.

“We feel good,” Jones said. “We feel good. This is a big part and a big learning experience for us after dropping two games in a row. And so now we’re just locked in and focused. We know it’s going to be a tough stretch here, but that’s how we want it. Each game’s a fight. So we’re going to be ready for it.”

A win over St. John’s would give Mike Krzyzewski his 1,000th career win.

“It’s really unbelievable,” Jones said. “That just goes to show how really great and unbelievable he is as a coach and what he means to the game of basketball. He’s already the winningest coach, but to win 1,000 games is just unheard of. It just shows what he really means to the game, and it’s just an honor to be able to play for him. We’re going to try to get that 1,000th win for him.”

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